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A sample of 15 prepackages software firms (SIC 7372) in the Puget Sound area (MSA 7600) was studied.  This sample consisted of eight entrepreneurial and seven non–entrepreneurial firms.  This industry was selected for two reasons.  First, firms in this industry have a wide variety of use patterns of contingent work.  It is not unusual for firms in this industry to use contingent work in core, sensitive areas of the firm, such as product development (programming) areas.  (Firms interviewed were asked to talk about contingent resource use in programming areas (core) as well as technical support areas such as testing, technical writing, and customer support (non–core).)  This characteristic allows for an investigation into how contingent work may affect the development of core competencies and, ultimately, competitive advantage in this industry.  Second, this industry is comprised of many entrepreneurial as well as non–entrepreneurial firms, making it possible to compare use patterns across these two groups.  Every firm contacted was willing to talk with me about contingent work use in their firm.  The only exception was an entrepreneurial firm that never used contractors.  The contact at this firm, however, did allow me to interview him on the phone for ten minutes on why they specifically did not use contingent work.  The results of this interview are included in the following analysis.


The rich portraits of contingent work use in software firms are discussed below.  First, the motives and use patterns of entrepreneurial firms are discussed.  Second, the motives and use patterns in non–entrepreneurial firms are presented for comparison.  Third, the outcomes for both kinds of firms are discussed together.  The implications for theory and practice are discussed in the Implications section.

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